MUCH-ANTICIPATED vote in the Ohio House of Representatives unfolded Wednesday.
House Bill 375 passed by a 55-35 margin. The much-discussed piece of legislation raises the oil and gas severance tax.
The bill, however, does not do justice for Eastern Ohio’s interests. Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire) was a staunch opponent of the legislation in its current state. We agree with his dissent, as the bill fails to generate adequate money from the tax for use in water, sewer, road and bridge projects.
Cera went to bat for Eastern Ohio by scripting an amendment much more palatable to us. It would have increased the local share of the severance tax from 17.5 percent to 50 percent.
With much of the oil and gas boom taking place in the immediate area, the 50-percent figure makes sense. That amount would have yielded a bountiful source for much-needed local projects. It would serve as an economic catalyst this region sorely needs.
Gov. John Kasich is another opponent of the bill. He believes it doesn’t generate enough revenue. The governor is seeking a 4 percent tax instead of the proposed 2.5 level.
Oil and gas is pumping jobs and revenue into Eastern Ohio. The industry does, however, take a toll on roads, bridges and the environment. The tax was an opportunity to help make some of the needed repairs.
We agree with Rep. Cera when he says, “It is a sad day when we have the chance to make a difference to an entire region of the state and fall short of that goal.”
The Ohio tax bill was an opportunity to do much good for Eastern Ohio.
Unfortunately, in its current form, that is far from the case.